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Cricket

Virat Kohli’s Cameo Against Pakistan Shows Signs Of His Return To Form Amid Heavy Criticism

Kohli looked confident and he did manage to find the middle of the bat. Although, it will be too soon to say anything and one can only wait to see what lies ahead.

Virat Kohli (Photo: AP/PTI)
Virat Kohli (Photo: AP/PTI)

New Delhi: Virat Kohli, who made a comeback after a much needed break on Sunday, scored 35 runs in 34 balls against the arch-rivals Pakistan in Dubai. Kohli was dropped on the second ball of his innings by Fakhar Zaman. After that he slowly tried to settle down and calm his nerves.

His innings might have been a small one but the way he played gave signals that this can be a start of his return to form. Kohli looked confident and he did manage to find the middle of the bat. Although, it will be too soon to say anything and one can only wait to see what lies ahead.

Kohli, who is in search of form, looked really good at the crease. In his innings of 35 runs, he scored three boundaries and a six. Leading upto the high voltage match against Pakistan, all eyes were on Kohli to find form and contribute to India’s cause.

Virat Kohli In Last 10 T20I

In the last 10 T20 innings played by Virat Kohli, he has scored 229 runs at an average of around 23 with highest score being 80 runs against England. He managed to score three half centuries. In the seven T20 matches played against Pakistan, Kohli scored 311 runs at an average of 77 and a strike rate of 118.25. His best score is 78 not out.

Former Cricketers, Experts Have Mixed Reactions On Kohli’s Dismal Form

Virat Kohli’s poor run with the bat is not ending. His struggle for runs has not gone well with the former cricketers and experts. Many former cricketers have even said that soon Kohli can be dropped if he doesn’t find his form in the near future.

“Now the situation is such that you might be forced to bench Kohli from T20 playing XI. If Ashwin can be dropped from the Test side then Kohli can also be dropped,” Kapil Dev was quoted as saying by ABP News.

“Virat Kohli is not batting at a level which we have seen him do over the years. He has made a name for himself because of his performances and if he is not performing, then you can’t keep the performing youngsters out of the team,” the former India captain added.

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Virat Kohli’s childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma came to his defence and slammed Kapil Dev for his comments. “I do not support the statements made by Kapil Dev on Virat Kohli. Nothing big happened with Virat that such kind of statement has been issued. Why is there so much hurry with Virat, he has done so well for the country. Making 70 international centuries is not a small thing. I do not think the board will make a decision to have him sit on the bench,” ANI quoted Sharma as saying.

Former India pacer Venkatesh Prasad also took a dig at the team management for not dropping Kohli despite his poor form and continuous failures. Prasad said that a player can’t be kept in the side on the basis of the reputation.

“Changed drastically now, where there is rest for being out of form. This is no way for progress. There is so much talent in the country and one cannot play on reputation. One of India’s greatest match-winners, Anil Kumble sat out on so many occasions. Need actions for the larger good,” Prasad said.

“There was a time when you were out of form, you would be dropped irrespective of reputation. Sourav, Sehwag, Yuvraj, Zaheer, Bhajji, all have been dropped when not in form. They have gone back to domestic cricket, scored runs and staged a comeback. The yardsticks seem to have ½”, the former India pacer added.

Legendary India batter Sunil Gavaskar came forward and offered help to Virat Kohli in dealing with the balls outside the off-stump. “If I had about 20 minutes with him, I would be able to tell him the things he might have to do. It might help him, I am not saying it will help him but it could, particularly with regards to that off-stump line,” Gavaskar was quoted as saying by India Today.

“It goes back to the fact that his first mistake turns out to be his last. Again, just because he is not among the runs, there is this anxiety to play at every delivery because that is what batters feel, they have got to score. You look to play at deliveries that you otherwise won’t. But he has gotten out to good deliveries as well on this particular tour,” he added.

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BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, as quoted by ANI, said, “Of course, look at the numbers he has got in international cricket that doesn’t happen without ability and quality. Yes, he has had a tough time and he knows that. He has been a great player himself. He himself knows by his own standards it has not been good and I see him coming back and doing well. But he has got to find his way and become successful, which he has been for the last 12-13 years or more and only Virat Kohli can do that.”

“These things will happen in sport. It has happened to everybody. It has happened to Sachin, It has happened to Rahul, it has happened to me, it has happened to Kohli. It is going to happen to future players. That’s part and parcel of sport and I think as a sportsman you just need to listen, be aware of what it is and just go and play your game,” explained Sourav Ganguly.

Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar came out in support of Virat Kohli and advised him to play at least hundred balls and forget about captaincy. “My advice to Virat would be simple — he should forget that he ever was captain of India with all the limelight on him and just simply focus on his batting. All the criticism that is directed at him is designed to make him stronger and he will emerge as a bigger person.”

Akhtar also said that the 70 tons scored by Kohli were not made in his aunt’s backyard. “But, as a Pakistani, why am I supporting Kohli? Well, he has 70 hundreds. Woh 70 sau khaala ke ghar mein ya candy crush khelte huye nahi banein hain. (Those 70 tons were not scored in his aunt’s backyard or while playing Candy Crush).”

“How did you even imagine in your wildest dreams that Kohli could be dropped from the Indian team? Virat Kohli is finished? Ok, fair enough. Virat Kohli should be dropped? Agreed. Now when I hear these things, I laugh and tell people, ‘Virat has been the greatest batter in the world in the last 10 years.’”

“Yes, he has had a couple of lean years and even in those years, he has scored runs, if not hundreds. Suddenly everyone is getting up in arms against him, such a great player and a human being isn’t right,” Akhtar said.

Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul Come Out In Support Of Kohli

Rohit Sharma reacted to Kapil Dev’s comments and defended Virat Kohli. “He is watching the game from outside and does not know what is happening inside. We have our thought process. We build our team and behind this, there is a lot of thinking. We back the boys and give them opportunities. So, these things you do not get to know from outside. So, whatever is happening outside is not important but what is happening inside is more important for us,” said the skipper during a post-match press conference.

“If you talk about form then everyone goes through ups and downs. The Player’s quality does not get affected. So, we should keep these things in our minds. When a player is doing well for so many years, then one or two bad series does not make him a bad player. We should not overlook his past performances. We who are in the team know the importance of the player. They have got all the right to talk about it but it does not matter for us too much,” he added.

Just like skipper Rohit Sharma has stoutly defended all questions on Virat Kohli’s prolonged bad patch, his deputy KL Rahul followed suit stating the obvious template answer, that it’s all “noise on the outside”.

“We don’t really give much importance to such comments. It doesn’t really affect a player, especially a world-class player like Virat will not be affected by what people are saying (on the outside),” Rahul said, ditto of what Kohli used to say when something specifically critical used to be asked and current skipper Rohit does the same when questioned on his predecessor. “He has had a little break and he is working on his game,” he said.

“When I was injured and at home for two months, I watched him play and it did not feel like he was out of form. Maybe, the standards he has set for himself, he hasn’t been able to get to that level yet. But, I’m sure he’s hungry to win matches for the country. That’s what he has done throughout his career,” he added.

KL Rahul also said that Virat had guided the current young Indian set-up to where it is now. “You have made us realise that we can try to push boundaries and improve in terms of skill and fitness,” he added.

Virat Kohli Opens About His Mental Health

Virat Kohli’s poor form with the bat, did take a toll on his “mental health”. The former India skipper admitted to not having touched the bat during the month-long break prior to Asia Cup.

Kohli, who has failed to score an international hundred for three years and his poor run of form did affect him as he revealed that at times he was “faking intensity” in trying to show that he is an epitome of mental strength.

“I am not shy to admit that I was feeling mentally down,” the former India skipper told Star Sports in an episode of “Virat: Heart to Heart”. Following the tour, Kohli took a break, skipping two white-ball series in the West Indies and Zimbabwe.

“I was convincing myself that no, you had the intensity. But your body was telling you to stop. The mind was telling me to take a break and step back.”

“This is a very normal thing to feel, but we don’t speak because we are hesitant. We don’t want to be looked at as mentally weak. Trust me, faking to be strong is far worse than admitting to be weak.”

“I’m looked at as a guy who is mentally very strong and I am. But everyone has a limit and you need to recognize that limit, otherwise things can get unhealthy for you,” he said. “This period taught me a lot of things that I wasn’t allowing to come to surface. When they eventually came up, I embraced it.”

“I want to make my team win at any cost and if that means I am gasping for breath when I walk off the field then so be it,” he said. “I mean that’s the kind of preparation I go through to be able to play like that. Wo naturally nahi ho raha tha aur mujhe push karna pad raha tha (I was not able to get that high intensity naturally, I was pushing myself to do it). But I just didn’t know it,” said Kohli.

Talking about his high-intensity approach on the field, Kohli said: “People ask me a lot, how do you do this on the field and how do you carry on with so much intensity. “I just tell them I love playing the game and I love the fact that I have so much to contribute to every ball, and I will give every inch of my energy on the field.”

KRK Blames Anushka Sharma For Virat Kohli’s “Depression”

Self-styled movie critic Kamaal R Khan, who is often in the news for his absurd comments on movies and bollywood celebrities, took a potshot at Kohli’s actor-producer wife Anushka Sharma over his poor form. Living up to his reputation of making controversial remarks, KRK blamed the actor for Kohli’s poor mental health.

In a tweet, which he later deleted, KRK wrote, “Virat Kohli is the first cricketer in India who is having problem of depression. Yeh hai result ek heroine se shaadi karne ka. She must have put in his head that he is having depression problems.” Actor Swastika Mukherjee reacted to it, calling it, “Sick”.

In an undeleted tweet, KRK wrote, “Ek North Indian strong boy #ViratKohli Ko Depression Ki Beemari Kaise Ho Gayee? (How could a strong North Indian boy suffer from depression)?” He did not stop here and said, if Virat Kohli is accepting that he is in depression, why is he in the team.

“I simply can’t understand, when #ViratKohli himself is accepting that he is having depression problem, then how he is in the team for Asia Cup2022! Are selectors also having depression problem?”